“By God, They’re Protecting Salamanders Rather Than Human Beings!”

comment heard in a restaurant in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin
by Thomas Davis
An Italian Sonnet
When Darwin saw gradation in a finch
That flits about Galapagous[1], he saw
One species modified in beak and claw
By choices made adapting to the flinch
Of circumstances born out of the wrench
Of geologic time, the pitch and yaw
Of land and ocean, weather systems raw
With winds that shape the land that rainstorms drench.
But in his old age earthworms sang the song
That sirened through the studies that he did[2],
The deaf and blind regurgitator dug
Into plain ground turned soil, the endless round
Of earth built by the living plows that slid
Fecundity out of the realm of slugs.

[1] Darwin traveled to the Galapagos Islands on a ship named Beagle where he developed the theory of evolution out of his observations of the gradations between a number of species, including a finch.
[2] Earthworms was Darwin’s last book, published on 10 October 1881, just six months before he died.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis

2 responses to ““By God, They’re Protecting Salamanders Rather Than Human Beings!”

  1. Ina

    A very good poem, the beauty of nature which almost seems alien to the rest of the world. Darwin was so lucky to see it all intact. His theory about how life evoluted was a big problem for bible theorists but I think he was more right 🙂 I like the sonnet in this form as well.

  2. I just love that phrase about living plows, Thomas. You might be interested to know that my wife and I visited Darwin’s house here in England today. It’s 8 miles from us on the hills above the Pilgrims Way and we were walking the garden where he conducted his observations of earthworms. His study is particularly fascinating. So your sonnet is very interesting to me and I feel as you do that his work is worthy of celebration in poetry.

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